COVID-19 cases in Brunei rise to 11

Lyna Mohamad

Five more COVID-19 cases were confirmed, said Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar, bringing the total to 11 cases in Brunei Darussalam.

The five presumptive cases mentioned at the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) press conference on Tuesday have been confirmed for COVID-19 and they are currently being treated at the National Isolation Centre in Tutong District.

At a press conference yesterday, the Minister of Health said that the six other confirmed cases are currently in a stable condition without any fever or the need of a breathing support.

Case 2 is a 61-year-old local man who is a friend of Case 1 and was travelling together to attend a Tabligh (religious event) gathering in Kuala Lumpur and returned home, and Case 3 is the 30-year-old son of Case 2 who also attended the gathering with his father.

The other three cases are the 46-year-old wife of Case 1 and their two children aged 12 and five who have no records of travel within the 14 days. One of the children does not show any infection symptoms while the other has been experiencing coughing since March 10.

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar during the press conference. PHOTO: RAHWANI ZAHARI

Case 7 and 8 are 32-year and 34-year-old locals from the same family who were also part of the group attending the religious gathering in Kuala Lumpur and returned to Brunei on March 4 on Malaysia Airlines flight MH2594 via Miri, Sarawak.

While Case 7 did not show any infection symptoms, Case 8 began to suffer from a flu on March 10 and contact tracing of these two cases are still being carried out.

Another participant of the same gathering, who has also been confirmed as Case 9, is a 59-year-old Bruneian. He also returned to Brunei via Miri, Sarawak on AirAsia flight AK3541 from Kuala Lumpur on March 3. The case began to show signs of infection (throat pain) two days later and did not leave home since then.

Case 10, a 33-year-old woman, is the wife of Case 3 while case 11 is a 52-year-old woman who is the wife of Case 9. Case 10 shows no infection symptoms while Case 11 began to experience coughing on March 10. Both cases have no records of travel to Kuala Lumpur and contact tracing of these two is ongoing.

The minister disclosed that these five new confirmed cases are all in a stable condition without fever and do not need breathing support.

He pointed out that the ministry is doing contact tracing for all the confirmed cases and Quarantine Order in accordance with the Contagious Disease Act Chapter 204 have been issued to all contacts of each COVID-19 case.

As of 2pm yesterday, more than 100 people have taken sample tests for COVID-19 with 66 laboratory tests have been carried out, and the remaining are still awaiting results. A Quarantine Order has been issued to 80 contacts of confirmed cases, the minister added.

It was also shared during the press conference that the 90 people who were at the religious gathering have reported themselves to the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital.

The ministry advised the public not to panic should the number of cases rise following the contact tracings. Members of the public involved in the contact tracing are urged cooperate with the officers carrying out the responsibilities.

Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham added that there is no evidence showing rampant spread of infection among the community, and said the situation is under control.

The MoH will continuously monitor the infection occurrence development and will inform members of the public on any latest updates and will continuously ensure that prevention measures and appropriate control are implemented according to needs.

In this regard, members of the public are advised to avoid direct contact with other people such as shaking hands and to avoid travel if there aren’t any important matters, said the minister, adding that mass gatherings are discouraged.

People attending mass gatherings such as weddings need to practise good hygiene and those who experience signs of infection are discouraged from attending such events. The ministry called on the public to be socially responsible.

Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong, meanwhile, noted that the National Disaster Management Centre is working closely with the MoH in tackling COVID-19.

For this, the Sports Village in Berakas has been prepared as a Quarantine Centre for the contacts who have been issued with Quarantine Order. They will be quarantined for 14 days and provided with daily necessities.

Meanwhile, during a question and answer session, the Minister of Health ensured that there is enough medical supplies for the treatment and the ministry is preparing to add more equipment, as the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE) has allocated special budget for the disaster.

As for the Quarantine Order 2004, the minister highlighted that those issued with the order and failed to comply can be fined or jailed (or both). A new suggestion to the Order will see that individuals caught lying to the medical officer in-charge will also get punished.

“There are some challenges, so we try to persuade people to come, if possible we don’t want to apply the Order. We would like the public to be cooperative especially to our officers as at the end of the day it is the safety of the public that is of utmost importance.”

The Minister of Home Affairs, in responding to the rumours of Brunei border checkpoints being closed, said that there are no closure of immigration checkpoints for entry and exit to Brunei.

As for the makeshift quarantine centre in Sports Village, the minister noted that students returning from Korea are under quarantine at the SEAMEO Voctech Centre in Gadong. Their contacts will be issued with the Quarantine Order and accomodated at the Sports Village’s Quarantine Centre.

The minister also informed that the weekly Bandarku Ceria programme will remain, however, he strongly advised the public to take extra precautionary measures.

Meanwhile, in the RB flight BI 872 to Brunei from Kuala Lumpur where one of the cases was on board, a spokesperson for the MoH said that they have the flight details and flight manifest.

“This patient developed symptoms on March 9 and his flight was on March 2, so it was well past when he took the flight and as he was not symptomatic on the flight. He passed through the thermal screening at Brunei International Airport and there was no symptoms according to the health declaration form, so the people on the same flight are not on high risk.

“There is no need for those passengers on the same flight to panic.”

As for AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines flights from Kuala Lumpur to Miri, the MoH has no jurisdictions and they have informed their counterparts at the IHR National Focal Point for Malaysia to inform them of cases in Brunei.

For the latest update, the public can visit the MoH’s website at www.moh.gov.bn or call the Health Advisory Line at 2381380 or 2381383 during office hours or Darussalam line 123 after office hours.